Spring Runeth Over
First days of Spring
The turkeys are driving me nuts.
The first days of spring have come and gone and all of nature’s creatures are in celebration.
If you have spent much of the winter connected to your hand-held device focused on who liked what, you might not have noticed. But, if you have taken a moment to step outside and explore with your dog, you’ve felt it.
If you haven’t, take an early morning drive out in the country slow enough to lower your pulse. Have no destination other than the next beautiful view or dancing bird and you too could become part of the celebration.
The rooster pheasant was blocking my advance on the gravel road. I could have sped by and blown him into the ditch, but instead I chose to humor his efforts. His iridescent chest thrust out and his wings flapped hard enough to approach lift off. He did not care that my truck out-weighed him by more than a ton. He was letting all comers know that he was [!%#&!] of the walk; master of his domain. The shear arrogance and audacity of his defiance was rejuvenating. He was Don Quixote in a feather suit.
How many dozens of his kind have I held in my hands in the fall yet never once seen a head so magnificently inflamed that everything else in the world labeled crimson paled in comparison. The hens in hiding along the fence line were entranced. John Travolta dancing below the disco ball in the prime of his youth would have paled in comparison to this belligerent clarion of spring.
Each morning at dawn as the sun pushes them back into the timber, the deer are dancing too. The alfalfa is heaving up a banquet that they and the antelope can’t get enough of.
For last year’s fawns there is disbelief that the harsh days of winter are at an end. In a short life, this is the most glorious and unexpected feast they have ever experienced. They cannot contain their enthusiasm for the warmth and abundance and spend their new found energy racing in circles playing nature’s equivalent of tag.
For the mule deer, this entails a pogo stick series of leaps that lift their entire bodies from the ground in the stotting that is unique in our neighborhood to their species. I watched a dozen playing chase so enthusiastically that a lonely whitetail came running from half a mile out on the prairie just to join in. The joyful dance of spring is so contagious it crosses the genetic barriers of feather and fur.
But it is the turkeys that are, hands down, the life of the party.
Gobbling season has returned in full force. Each morning and night as I tend to my chores, the turkeys in their roosts announce to all the world that spring courting has begun. Other than bull elk in the fall, no creature so loudly announces their availability for romance.
I am competitive by nature. It is impossible for me to hear their challenges and not answer back. The only thing saving my wife and children from humiliation is the distance to the nearest neighbor and I’m fairly sure that at times even a mile is not enough to keep them from hearing my voice above the birds.
Standing here alone as the only human among my trusty dogs and pack horses, I refused to be judged. Spring has arrived and all that are able should be joining in the chorus.
With this year’s lion season all but in the books, I’m definitely getting a few spring turkey tags!